Desert Island Jazz
Fred Frith (2010)

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Fred Frith is perhaps the ideal musician to be cast away on a desert island: not because, as he himself points out with perhaps some perverse pride, some of the comments on his YouTube videos are less than positive; but because his interest in sound in general knows no bounds, and an island would surely introduce him to some new ones.

Born in England not long after the end of WW II, Fred was in the right place at the right time to experience the changes in music which later became known in the US as "The British Invasion". His first formal instrument, at age five, was the violin—an instrument of which he says "It was immediately apparent I was not going to be a violinist", yet which he still plays, professionally no less, about half a century later. But sooner or later he found the guitar, which became an extension of himself.

Together with fellow Cambridge University student Tim Hodgkinson, Fred co-founded the avant-rock band Henry Cow, of which he says that there's only one visual record "but, fortunately, it's a good one". The band stayed together for almost a decade following their graduation, a period during which Fred independently recorded "Guitar Solos", an album of improvised music on prepared guitars which remains a landmark more than three decades later.

Any brief summary of Fred's subsequent career becomes a just a list of locations where he has either lived (New York City, Stuttgart, ….) or recorded (London, Sweden, Maryland, …) or toured (everywhere), or a list of musicians with whom he has played or collaborated (Brian Eno, John Zorn, Derek Bailey, ROVA, …), and this one is no exception.

Largely self-taught in music (his field of study was English Literature), Fred is nonetheless recognized in musical academia: for a decade he's been Professor of Composition in the Music Department at Mills College in Oakland, California, and he was recently awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Huddersfield in the north of England, not too far from where his story began.

The only constant in Fred's music is change. So if you don't like what he's doing right now, just wait a short while.
Pick Artist Album Song Label
# 1 Stian Carstensen Farmer's Market Graovo Dance Winter & Winter
# 2 Barre Phillips Journal Violono 9 Nellie's Fire Harmonia Mundi
# 3 Olivier Messien Turangalila-Symphonie Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Turangalila II EMI
# 4 After Dinner Editions After Dinner Recommended Records
# 5 Charles Mingus Shoes of the Fisherman's Wife Far Wells, Mill Valley Columbia
# 6 Janet Feder Speak Puppet Puppet Recommended Records
# 7 Asha Bhosle Ghazals from Umrao Jaan and Kashish   EMI
# 8 Lars Hellmar The Siberian Circus Optimistbeat Resource Records
Book "A book written in Inuit, so that I could spend the rest of my life trying to figure it out"
Luxury Item "An enormous quantity of manuscript paper"
Castaways by date
Melissa Aldana
11 Mar
Ron E. Beck
29 Apr
Pascal Bokar
07 Oct
Shanna Carlson
18 Mar
Sara Caswell
25 Mar
Carlos D'l Puerto
22 Jul
Kellye Gray
15 Jul
Ellen Johnson
17 Jun
Paul McCandless
08 Jul
Allison Miller
15 Apr
Melissa Morgan
29 Jul
Linda Oh
05 Aug
Dafnis Prieto
24 Jun
Jim Pugh
30 Sep
Fred Randolph
05 Feb
Harvie S
03 Jun
Jake Shapiro
10 Jun
Marcus Shelby
15 Jan
Bria Skonberg
04 Mar
Mark Soskin
20 May
Leslie Stoval
19 Aug
John Stowell
08 Apr
Toots Thielemans
02 Sep
Roseanna Vitro
26 Feb
Paul VornHagen
14 Oct
Don Was
12 Aug
Danielle Wertz
27 May